Love is a petulant and often unkind, sordid little film about unlikable characters doing unlikable things. Yet when you strip away the overt and often silly puerile fascination with handjobs and other fuckery it’s actually quite a moving and engaging work.
This is Gaspar Noé at his most overt, bringing 3D-shot penetrative sex to the arthouse crowd. Murphy, Electra and Omi find themselves in a complicated triangle of lust and passion, abusing their bodies and their emotions through a series of complicated encounters. With a scattershot narrative structure Noé manages to both titillate and captivate as we follow the path of these protagonists in their descent into mediocrity
Yet beyond all the headline-grabbing money shots (and there are plenty of those) you’ve got an entirely believable tale of a bunch of assholes being assholes to one another. Credit to performers Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin, there’s not a moment on screen that’s not entirely keeping with their characters. You’ve seen these douchebags strung out at a nightclub or have overheard their arguments when walking the streets at night. Even at its most operatic there’s a verisimilitude of emotion heightened by the provocative and carnal physical connection.
The biggest shock about Love is that despite having plenty of hardcore sex it feels far from pornographic – beyond the thrusts of bodies and narratives there’s a core element of sweetness and tenderness, a kernel of genuine feeling that manages to echo the film’s title in quite surprising ways.
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